Are there age restrictions for applying for SSDI benefits? SSDI benefits are available to persons with disabilities who have earned sufficient work credits, regardless of age. While age is not a factor in determining eligibility for SSDI benefits, applicants must meet other eligibility requirements. Age may qualify individuals who are unable to work for other benefit programs, such as SSI benefits.

If you need help applying for SSDI benefits in Chicago, call Ankin Law for a SSDI lawyer. (872) 529-9377.

Are There Age Restrictions for Applying for SSDI Benefits in Illinois?

The SSDI benefit program does not impose age restrictions for benefits in Illinois or any other state. SSDI eligibility is primarily based on a person’s work history and his or her inability to engage in substantial gainful activity due to a qualifying disability. However, applicants must meet criteria to qualify for SSDI benefits, including having worked and paid adequate Social Security taxes and having a diagnosed medical condition that meets the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability.

How Your Age Can Impact Eligibility for Benefits

While age itself is not a determining factor for SSDI eligibility, it can affect other aspects of the SSDI application process. For instance, applicants who are near retirement age have the option to apply for early retirement benefits instead of SSDI if they meet eligibility criteria for both programs. Additionally, benefit recipients approaching full retirement age may have their SSDI benefits converted to retirement benefits automatically.

Are There Age Requirements for Child Dependents Seeking SSDI Benefits?

Children can receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, typically through one of the following scenarios:

  • Dependent Benefits: Children under 18 (or up to age 19 if still in high school) may be eligible to receive SSDI benefits as dependents of a parent who is receiving SSDI benefits due to retirement or disability, or who is deceased. These benefits are commonly referred to as dependent or auxiliary benefits.
  • Disabled Adult Child Benefits: Disabled adult children may be eligible for SSDI benefits based on a parent’s work record if he or she became disabled before 22. This provision allows disabled adult children to receive benefits as dependents, even if their parent is still alive.

For children to qualify for dependent benefits, the child must be:

  • Under 18: Children under18 are eligible for SSDI benefits as dependents of a disabled, deceased, or retired parent.
  • Under 19 and a Full-Time Student: Children between the ages of 18 and 19 who are full-time students (no higher than grade 12) can also qualify for SSDI benefits.
  • 18 or Older with a Disability That Began Before Age 22: Disabled adult children who became disabled before reaching the age of 22 can qualify for SSDI benefits based on a parent’s work record.

These criteria ensure that children with disabilities or those who have lost a parent have access to financial support through SSDI benefits. The disability must meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability, and the child’s family must meet financial eligibility requirements. Additionally, the parent must have accumulated sufficient work credits to qualify for SSDI.

What Determines SSDI Eligibility?

Several factors determine eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, ensuring that individuals with disabilities receive financial assistance when they are unable to work. 

Here are the key criteria:

Work History

To qualify for SSDI, an individual must have worked in jobs covered by Social Security and paid Social Security taxes for a certain period. The Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates an applicant’s work history to determine if he or she has accumulated enough work credits to be eligible for benefits.

Earning Work Credits

Work credits are earned by paying Social Security taxes on earned income. In 2024, you earn 1 credit for each $1,730 in income subject to Social Security taxes. The maximum number of credits that can be earned in a year is four.

Number of Work Credits Required

The number of work credits required for SSDI eligibility varies depending on the age at the onset of disability.

  • Individuals under 24 need 6 credits earned in the 3-year period before disability began.
  • Individuals aged 24 to 31 need credits for half the time between age 21 and the age they became disabled.
  • Individuals aged 31 or older need a minimum of 20 credits earned in the 10 years immediately before their disability began.

Special Rules for Younger Workers

The SSA applies special rules for individuals who become disabled at a younger age, recognizing that they may not have had as much time to accumulate work credits. These rules may reduce the number of credits required for eligibility.

Medical Condition 

The primary eligibility requirement for SSDI is having a medical condition that meets the SSA’s definition of disability. The condition must be severe enough to prevent the individual from engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA) for at least 12 continuous months or be expected to result in death.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a Listing of Impairments, often referred to as the “Blue Book,” which outlines medical conditions and criteria that qualify individuals for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. These conditions are categorized into two sections:

Adult Listings

This section includes impairments that affect adults aged 18 and older. Examples of medical conditions listed in the Adult Listings include:

  • Musculoskeletal disorders such as spinal disorders, major dysfunction of a joint, or amputation.
  • Respiratory disorders, like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma.
  • Cardiovascular disorders, such as chronic heart failure or coronary artery disease.
  • Neurological disorders, like epilepsy, multiple sclerosis (MS), or Parkinson’s disease.
  • Mental disorders, such as depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia.
  • Immune system disorders like HIV/AIDS or lupus.
  • Cancer, including various types, such as leukemia or breast cancer.
  • Digestive system disorders, such as liver disease or inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Endocrine disorders, such as diabetes mellitus or thyroid disorders.

Child Listings

This section includes impairments that affect children under 18. Examples of medical conditions listed in the Child Listings include:

  • Neurological disorders, like cerebral palsy, epilepsy, or intellectual disorder.
  • Musculoskeletal disorders, such as muscular dystrophy or osteogenesis imperfecta.
  • Respiratory disorders, including cystic fibrosis or chronic lung disease.
  • Cardiovascular disorders, like congenital heart disease.
  • Mental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder or intellectual disability.
  • Growth impairments, including short stature or failure to thrive.

Severity of Disability

The SSA assesses the severity of an individual’s disability based on its impact on the ability to perform work-related tasks. This evaluation considers factors such as the nature of the impairment, its duration, and its effects on daily activities, mobility, and work capacity.

Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)

Applicants must not be engaged in SGA, meaning they cannot earn income above a threshold set by the SSA. In 2024, the SGA threshold for non-blind individuals is $1,550 per month. For blind applicants, SGA monthly limits are set to $2590.

Overall, SSDI eligibility hinges on a combination of work history, medical condition severity, and the individual’s ability to engage in substantial gainful activity due to their disability. Meeting these criteria ensures that eligible individuals receive the financial support they need.

Consult an SSDI Attorney

Navigating the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) application process can be daunting, especially when dealing with a disability that affects your ability to work. Hiring an SSDI attorney can increase your chances of successfully obtaining benefits. 

Here’s how an SSDI attorney can help:

Application Assistance

An SSDI attorney can help you complete and submit your application accurately, ensuring all necessary documentation is included and deadlines are met. They understand the requirements and can help you gather medical records, work history information, and other relevant documents to support your claim.

Appeals Representation

If your initial application is denied, an attorney can represent you through the appeals process. He or she will review the reasons for denial, gather additional evidence, and prepare a strong case for reconsideration or a hearing before an administrative law judge.

Legal Knowledge

SSDI attorneys have in-depth knowledge of Social Security laws and regulations. They understand the criteria used to evaluate disability claims and can effectively argue your case based on medical evidence, vocational factors, and legal precedents.

Court Representation

In the event of a hearing before an administrative law judge, an attorney will represent you in court, presenting evidence, examining witnesses, and making legal arguments to support your claim.

An SSDI attorney can provide essential guidance, support, and advocacy throughout the SSDI application and appeals process, maximizing your chances of receiving the benefits you need. For help with your case, call Ankin Law in Chicago.